Item 616 - Address by President Nelson Mandela to the meeting of Director-Generals establishing a forum of Director-Generals

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Address by President Nelson Mandela to the meeting of Director-Generals establishing a forum of Director-Generals


  • 1998-08-18 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Website

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Meeting establishing a forum of Director-Generals

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  • English

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Members of the Forum,

A perennial challenge for all democratic governments, through all times and in all circumstances, is to achieve an integrated process of development and implementation of policy throughout government so as to realise the priorities of the mandate which derives from election and ongoing interaction with civil society.

One of the lessons we draw from our own experience and that of other countries is that there is no universal blueprint for meeting this challenge. Nor is there any one arrangement that will serve this purpose at all stages.

Within the short lifespan of our democracy we have engaged in an evolving process to strengthen the capacity of the executive - the Presidency and the Cabinet - to exercise political direction and oversight to the machinery of government in a manner that is both effective and informed by the will of the people.

The route we have followed has been informed by the political circumstances in which we found ourselves at the point of reconnoitring our new democratic path, amongst others; by the imperatives of transition from a fundamentally undemocratic system which bequeathed us a state oriented to minority needs; by the fact that the bearers of the new policies and priorities, both in the executive and the administration, were new to government and largely reliant on those structures inherited from the predecessor state; by the continuities with the past arising from our negotiated settlement; by the parameters required for a Government of National Unity.

It was for such reasons that our first measure to bring the necessary co-ordination and vision into the machinery of government was established within the Office of The President through the Reconstruction and Development Office, armed with a special fund as a lever to re-orient the spending priorities of government departments. When the RDP resource allocation became incorporated within departmental planning and activities, its mission was achieved.

It has been succeeded within the Presidency by structures dedicated to the across-cutting needs of the most vulnerable sectors of our society - women; youth, the disabled; by the Co-ordination and Implementation Unit to enhance the capacity of the Presidency to exercise oversight and informed intervention where necessary; and by the Secretariat of the Government Communication and Information System to promote a cohesive voice of government.

By now the machinery to promote co-ordination and integration of the activities of government in its different spheres has developed extensively and has been enriched by the ethos of co-operative governance.

The establishment of a forum that brings together the chief executive officers of all our departments of state and our provinces has the potential to greatly enhance the impact of all these other measures that have been taken to promote purposeful, coherent and effective implementation of government policy. It is therefore to be welcomed.

In initiating the Forum of Directors-General we have not awaited the outcome of Cabinet's deliberations on the report of the Presidential Review Commission which we charged with making a critical scrutiny of the administrative arrangements which we inherited as well as our own modifications of it.

The Forum answers to a need in this period that our own experience in government has identified. But of course this body, like other aspects of government, falls within the scope of those deliberations. It too will be subject to the ultimate standard by which all institutions and structures of our democracy must be judged; does it assist us in improving the lives of all South Africans, especially the poor and most vulnerable?

I commend you, the heads of government departments, on having taken the initiative to establish this forum and for having consulted with the Cabinet about the parameters for its establishment and functioning. It is this common commitment to our people that will make South Africa the winning nation we talk of.

My best wishes to you, and to all of us striving and co-operating for a better life for all in our country. Thank you.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 08/12/06 by Helen Joannides




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